The Shed (1131/2 E. Palace Ave., 505/982-9030, 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m. and 5:30–9 p.m. Mon.–Sat., $13) has been serving platters of enchiladas since 1953—bizarrely, with a side of garlic bread. But that’s just part of the tradition at this colorful, comfortable, marginally fancy place that’s as popular with tourists as it is with die-hard residents. Perfectly decent distractions such as lemon-garlic shrimp and fish tacos are on the menu, but it’s the red chile you really should focus on.
Standard New Mexican dishes get the modern-diner treatment at Blue Corn Café (133 W. Water St., 505/984-1800, 11 a.m.–9 p.m. Sun.–Thurs., 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Fri. and Sat., $10): fresh ingredients and clean flavors, all in a family-friendly, casual, slightly chain-restaurant-like setting. The chiles rellenos benefit especially well from the modernizing, and of course the tacos and enchiladas get at least a visual boost from the blue corn tortillas. Burgers and ribs are also on the menu.
Near the capitol, Guadalupe Café (422 Old Santa Fe Tr., 505/982-9762, 7 a.m.–2 p.m. and 5–9:30 p.m. Tues.–Fri., 8 a.m.–2 p.m. and 5–9:30 p.m. Sat., 8 a.m.–2 p.m. Sun., $8) is a morning pit stop for politicos and other busy folks who still need a shot of chile to start their day. And no, you can’t get that chile on the side—the kitchen is a bit righteous on this point.
© Zora O'Neill from Moon Santa Fe, Taos & Albuquerque, 2nd edition